How To Reach The Best Music Business Contacts. Period.
By Andy Lykens
Lately I have had the opportunity to talk to a lot of subscribers and it’s been a very cool process. So many of you have had some success in the music licensing world, or are getting approached by companies to sign agreements and have your music represented in third party catalogs. But the most common question I see is:
Who do I reach out to in the first place?
And while this answer depends on your main goals (do you want to pitch music yourself or work with a company? Are you looking for a major label deal or trying to get into a music library?) the process for finding your key contacts is the same.
Imagine that you no longer feel like you’re sitting and waiting for something to happen. You’ve invested time, energy, and probably a good amount of cash into your music but you can’t help but feel like you need to do something to get noticed.
Why aren’t more of the right people finding you? Why does every time you sit down to do some work end with clicking away mindlessly on the next BuzzFeed list?
It’s frustrating, overwhelming, and can be really confusing.
But what if you could reverse this feeling?
What if you could sit down at your computer, spend 20 minutes and immediately have a new name or two to add to your list of contacts? What if you could generate a list of 5, 10, even 100 people that you know for a fact use music in their productions? How do you go genuinely connect to the people that are in a position to help you?
What would it be like to actually get an email that said “hey, I think one of your tracks may just work for our latest project?”
If you’ve been a reader of mine for a while you know I’m all about genuine relationship building. The long haul approach. Because at the end of the day you’re way better off having 5 really strong relationships than 1,000 weak ones.
So today I’m going to tell you about my favorite resources for finding new people to introduce into your circle of trust.
Again I need to stress that you’re not trying to find people to blindly bombard with lengthy emails about how wonderful you are. Instead, you’re finding people doing things you think are really cool, and reaching out to them because you want to be a small part of what they do while reciprocating by a factor of about 20 times you helping them.
Without further ado, here are some great places to start:
Here’s an obvious one. Trade magazines detail really interesting stories about the people who power the industries you’re focusing on.
Reading the trades is not only a fantastic place to find names of people you can reach out to, but it’s also a great way to really get involved in the industry and understand what’s going on.
After a while you may even start to see patterns (like when postproduction typically takes place for a film, or when annual awards ceremonies are, or what types of bands certain A&R folks like) that can put you in a position to be more helpful to people or have a chance to be more relevant to them.
Ever wonder why entry fees to the best events are always a ton of money? Because its worth it. If you have an opportunity to attend an event where people will be discussing the music business or the production industry, you better believe there will be a ton of people there who are relevant to your cause.
Now don't get the wrong impression. You don’t have to be a jerky scumbag running around whipping business cards at people like some sort of deranged sales ninja. Find a topic you’re interested in. Try to find a way to connect that interest to your end goals and at the happy hour (there’s ALWAYS a happy hour), strike up a conversation with someone you saw speak on a panel or who was sitting near you.
It’s a great way to present yourself as an intelligent person without bashing people in the face with your latest CD (by the way, I don’t even HAVE a CD player any more how weird is that?).
Anywhere Food Exists
This one is a little out of the box, and definitely more of a crapshoot. But in case you haven’t noticed, food is a big deal for a lot of people. The best new restaurant, microbrewery or coffee roaster attract people from all over.
I’ve met creative directors from ad agencies, executive producers, and fellow music business folks just by actively reminding myself that no one will talk to me if I don’t talk to them first. Yes, it’s tough to strike up a conversation with a random stranger. Trust me, I would rather sit drunk in a corner in my apartment trying to brush my dog’s teeth than be social sometimes.
It’s always worth it (just like having a dog with minty fresh breath). Even if the person isn’t relevant to what you want to do with music, you will always learn something either about yourself or how to talk to people in general.
Man they’re great, aren’t they? They’re fun, they like you, you make each other laugh, and when you’re down, you can count on them to pick you up. Keep in mind your friends know people that you haven’t ever met. The problem is they’re not always in tune with the types of people you’d like to meet and why.
It’s always worth asking a friend if they know anyone you should meet.
You can do this in a variety of ways if you’re traveling to a different city, drop a note to anyone you may think knows someone there you could meet for a coffee.
Maybe you’ve got a meeting in an office building that houses 5 other companies why not post to Facebook asking if anyone knows someone who works in any of those places? Or you could do something simple like hosting a party or meetup of some type, inviting your friends and ask them to bring someone new along.
Exploiting your network of friends is fun and easy. Why not make it good for your career too?
These are my absolute favorite ways to find new people. Pick one that’s most attractive to you and give it a try. I think you’ll be really surprised at your results.
And remember, meeting new people doesn’t mean you’re looking for ways to swindle yourself into a ‘deal.'
Do your homework, be the best listener you can, and be helpful as soon as you see an opportunity.
One last note: just like your guitar playing, harmonizing, and lyric writing all take practice, so does this stuff. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t have immediate success. If something doesn’t work revisit your approach, tweak it, and try again. If something great happens, why not drop me a note? I’d love to hear about it.
Andy Lykens is a music branding and marketing specialist for Imagem Music, the world’s largest independent music publisher. You can learn more at http://www.andylykens.com